Addressing Infrastructure Essential

When the 2015 elections comes around, we will hear about education, health care, job creation and economic development. These issues without a doubt are essential to a community's growth, but there is an underlying issue has a direct impact on these important aspects of life. Twenty-one percent of this state's bridges are deficient or obsolete, while 8 percent of the state's roads are in poor condition, according to federal transportation figures.

It will take a lot of funds to fix them. Mississippi has more than 4,500 miles of highways in need of repair, and the estimated cost is near $1 billion. State transportation officials say it will cost about $4.1 billion to replace all the deficient bridges, and over a billion of that will fall on the counties. The reality here is that state and local budgets only can go so far in meeting basic needs. The situation is the cost of repairs now versus even more expensive construction when the need gets beyond repair. It will only get worse as more time goes by.

Some suggest increasing the state's fuel tax to help fund repairs to the infrastructure of this state. The reality is that next year is an election year, and it will be hard to find many officials promoting a tax increase to address any issue. There has already been talk about tax breaks next year when the Legislature convenes, which is popular, but the funds being spent on the state's deteriorating infrastructure make for good policy.

It is important to businesses when looking to locate in this state for the highways and bridges to be in good condition. A sound infrastructure makes for better economic development, and that makes the communities more attractive. This helps create jobs while enhancing tourism, and that generates more money for the local communities. It is essential to the school system of a community by having safe bridges and highways for school buses and other vehicles traveling back and forth from schools. Infrastructure is vital to hospitals, ambulances for example have to travel across many different types of bridges and highways to reach a patient in a timely manner.


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